Anyone work with roofing companies?


HoosierBuff

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I have a few roofing clients, and seeing that the top ranked providers in my area are all apart of this GAF master builder "scheme". It seems like some kind of linking network.

Has anyone seen this?

Basically, anyone who is a GAF builder gets put on like 50-100 sites, with a link like this:
GAF Contractor Directory

All of these are out of town roofers - so a roofer in Dallas may get a link on a site in Idaho, etc.

I'd advise my client against doing this, but, it seems like it is working for the winners in my market. Any thoughts?
 

Digitaldar

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It is frustrating when Google says "don't do this" and they reward those that do. Good idea not to advise your client to do - unless they do it with a throw away domain :) I have seen agencies execute shady practices in the past... that were rewarded... and then one night overnight... BAM! All of those clients lost rankings and traffic. Penguin hit. After a long period of time saying "don't do X", but rewarding those who did it anyway... Google penalized them.

A couple of years later many companies had not recovered.

Unfortunately my "told you so" emails did not hold much value :)
 
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I saw a similar (and REALLY sketch looking) industry link-list for wedding photographers that was a common link source for the top ranking photographers in a lot of the cities I was looking at last month. This list looks super legit to the spammy list that popped up repeatedly in that industry, and yet... it seemed to help.

For what it's worth, if you haven't read this article yet (was just posted yesterday) check out experiment 11, it directly relates.

I feel like I would be hesitant to recommend a client use it personally, though for some industries (roofing, for example) I imagine getting sensible backlinks is a challenge.
 
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Like Digitaldar said, why not try it, but with another domain. This way you will have an option to rank quick and in short time, but with your other domain/website you will build up slowly to a long term ranking.
 
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I have also seen this very same GAF directory pop up for roofing clients, and it's a big source of juicy links for them. It does feel a little "shady", but it is coming from one of the big time #1 players in the roofing industry, so we have left it in there. Doing my own research, all the competitors I see who are where I want my clients to be are still listed in this directory, so take that as you will.
 

HoosierBuff

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argh. . .

I think I'm going to scramble for other links. I just can't do it.

I'd rather fail the right way then have success and risk hurting the client in an unfixable way. I'm not saying I have a strong moral compass - I wouldn't want to deal with that kind of blow up if it goes bad. (and I have some morals too)
 

JoshuaMackens

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If you are a Master Certified GAF Roofer (no easy task) you get a link in GAF's directory. You are also allowed to reprint their directory on your website if you wish.

GAF is a huge player in the roofing industry. Helping set up a link scheme is a little too small time for them and has a better chance hurting their brand than helping their GAF Master Certified members.

It's not a link scheme it's just a coincidence. I imagine they have no idea they're starting any type of SEO conversation with this in place.

Why not be in the directory if you have the opportunity? I wish my roofer was and I keep encouraging him to work on his certification. GAF links are above reproach at this point.
 

dmarks

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I saw a similar (and REALLY sketch looking) industry link-list for wedding photographers that was a common link source for the top ranking photographers in a lot of the cities I was looking at last month. This list looks super legit to the spammy list that popped up repeatedly in that industry, and yet... it seemed to help.

For what it's worth, if you haven't read this article yet (was just posted yesterday) check out experiment 11, it directly relates.

I feel like I would be hesitant to recommend a client use it personally, though for some industries (roofing, for example) I imagine getting sensible backlinks is a challenge.

The article is great, I would recommend reading it a few times, lots of good nuggets of information in there, thanks for posting.
 

Marie Haynes

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IMO this is treading on thin ice.

If you are a Master Certified GAF Roofer (no easy task) you get a link in GAF's directory. You are also allowed to reprint their directory on your website if you wish.
Getting a link in GAF's directory is perfectly within Google's guidelines. Even if it was a paid placement, this is likely a valid directory with a barrier to entry.

But, getting a link on this directory that is republished on a significant number of sites is a link scheme. It doesn't really matter whether GAF is intending it to be a link scheme but the reality is that one link in the directory results in a large number of links from related sites and those links were not editorially given. Plus, all of those sites receive significant SEO benefit as a result.

Will Penguin catch this? At this point from what I have seen of Penguin I would say that no, this would not be caught as a link scheme. With that said, however, it would only take a very quick manual review from a Google webspam team employee to flag this manually as a link scheme. As such, all it would take is someone to report one of these sites as being part of a link scheme and then all of the sites in the circle are at risk for receiving an unnatural links penalty. If that happens, then ALL of your site's links are going to be in question. Recovering from a manual action can be a nightmare.

I've removed a lot of unnatural links penalties and I've seen several that were given for similar types of link schemes.

I would definitely not recommend this practice.
 

JoyHawkins

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Hey Marie,

Thank you for your valuable insights! I have a couple follow-up questions.

1. Since Penguin likely won't catch this would it be good for someone to report some of these sites? I'm thinking if I was a roofer and competing against this it could be near impossible. Kind of like all the spam I've been nuking lately on MapMaker that ranks high because some crafty person realized it works to break the rules.

2. From your experience does reporting sites actually result in them getting manual penalties or does Google just ignore the reports? I realize you couldn't 100% confirm if someone got a penalty unless you had access to Search Console but you could observe if they drop in ranking.
 

Marie Haynes

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Since Penguin likely won't catch this would it be good for someone to report some of these sites? I'm thinking if I was a roofer and competing against this it could be near impossible. Kind of like all the spam I've been nuking lately on MapMaker that ranks high because some crafty person realized it works to break the rules.
I think that it is entirely possible that a future iteration of Penguin could determine this is a link scheme. But, Penguin as we know it now does not.

I am fairly certain that Google has an algorithm to pick up this type of link scheme for realtors. One realtor I worked with used a particular real estate CMS and he didn't know that he had a page on his site that said, "Recommended realtors across the country". Each realtor using the CMS had a similar semi-hidden page that was cross linking to other realtors using this system. They were all ranking really well but now they're not. I don't know when the change happened, but I feel like Google figured it out algorithmically. They may eventually be able to do the same for all professions doing this kind of thing.

Should we report these sites? Arugh. I struggle with this daily. When I'm doing site reviews for my clients I always include information on their competitors and often I see that their competitors are using heavy spam techniques. So, should we report them? Part of me says that I work for my client and reporting competitors is in the best interest of my client, so yeah we should. The other part of me feels like I am tattle-tailing and it doesn't feel right to do it. I would hate to think that my spam report ruined someone's livelihood, especially when some of these businesses don't even know that they're spamming. They just hired the wrong SEO company. This is probably a good discussion for another day. :)

So...I have filed spam reports for sites that are doing illegal stuff. When someone hacked into one of my own sites and placed links to pharma and porn sites in my footer, I reported all of those sites they were linking to because I was mad. In regards to competitors again though, I usually leave it up to the business owner to decide if they want to file a spam report. AND...I would only recommend doing it if your own client's site is really clean. I think it's possible that filing a spam report could cause a Google employee to look at the entire SERP. If your own house is dirty you could cause yourself to get a penalty as well.

Do they work? They can. The SEM Post write an article today about this:

Why Some Google Spam Reports Are Not Acted On

From your experience does reporting sites actually result in them getting manual penalties or does Google just ignore the reports? I realize you couldn't 100% confirm if someone got a penalty unless you had access to Search Console but you could observe if they drop in ranking.
Given that I haven't filed too many spam reports myself, I really don't know how effective they are.

Hope that helps!

Marie
 

HoosierBuff

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Very interesting posts Marie and Joy. Thanks sooooo much. Great stuff.

. . . an argument for reporting the link schemes would go like this:

While I certainly agree the people that are benefiting from this are probably totally oblivious, and this is their livelihood. At the same time, there are the guys who are ranked 4-10 that are getting 1/10th the business, all because their SEO's were more cautious. Worse, the SEO's who got the top sites ranked by using this scheme are probably getting recommended to others as knowing their stuff. . . going unpunished for their questionable deeds, and wreaking additional havoc in other verticals.

Game theory says that you need to punish those who cheat, otherwise, they will always cheat. If we punish them, the industry will be cleaner.

.........all that said, its not something I feel great about. At the same time, the guy who is ranked #4 isn't going to overcome those GAF links without a great deal of effort.
 

JoyHawkins

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I'm not sure if maybe I'm the exception but I don't feel bad about reporting people who break the guidelines. I think them getting away with it does more damage long-term like HoosierBuff pointed out.

I do feel bad for the business owners but unfortunately the impact of them not getting penalized is worse for the rest of the businesses out there. It's a buyer-beware marketplace these days.
 

DanLeibson

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Just wanted to weigh in and say I'm also not a big fan of reporting spam techniques.

I'm not really sure there is a good ethics argument to be made either way and I generally think that there are better ways we can help clients then doing Google's work for them.
 

JoyHawkins

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You must have a lot more faith in Google than I do. They are great at many things but enforcing their guidelines isn't one of them. I see locksmiths in the forum all the time that report like 20+ listings frequently that all get removed. Different kind of spam obviously but I generally have don't have much faith in them detecting spam.
 

DanLeibson

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You must have a lot more faith in Google than I do. They are great at many things but enforcing their guidelines isn't one of them. I see locksmiths in the forum all the time that report like 20+ listings frequently that all get removed. Different kind of spam obviously but I generally have don't have much faith in them detecting spam.
Is minimal a lot these days? ;)

I just don't think it's my job, or that of my team, to enforce their guidelines (many of which are vague and nonsensical anyway).

Also, I don't think Google "violations" are spam. Spam has a negative ethical/legal connotation.
 

Catch22Jacks

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I'm the marketing director of a remodeling company that is Master
Elite Certified. Joshua Mackens has it spot on in his post. GAF is the largest roofing company in the US so they have a ton of roofers that use their product, they offer to the best in the business the opportunity to become Certified Master Elite roofers. Its a great service for homeowners so they can more easily figure out who the best companies are in their town so they actually are provider lots value to their customers as a opposed to throwing the name of every contractor on a page. So it passes the SEO sniff test of creating value for customers IMO.
 

dsmith10

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Hey guys.....I read a few of the posts here, and wanted to chime in with my 2 cents.....

I think it's pomp & circumstance what these big sites stand for.....I know, when I make a video for a roofer, as an example, when I set it up correctly, and a consumer google's or YouTube's or searches in any way, there it is on page 1.....
(and that would be only a part of the rest of their marketing efforts).....

So, as far as these groups or sites go, why would any roofer want or need more "look good" credentials, if he has a great website, and is easily "found" when searched?

Just my opinion.....
 

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